Gods of the Wyrdwood by R J Barker
Fantasy , Orbit , R J Barker / June 29, 2023

Cahan du Nahare is known as the forester – a humble man who can nonetheless navigate the dangerous Deepforest like no-one else. But once he was more. Once he was a warrior. Udinny serves the goddess of the lost, a goddess of the small and helpless. When she ventures into the Deepforest to find a missing child, Cahan will be her guide. But in a land at war, in a forest full of monsters – Cahan will need to choose between his past life and the one he leads now – and his choice will have consequences for his entire world. I loved both The Wounded Kingdom and The Tide Child trilogies, so I was excited when Gods of the Wyrdwood dropped through my letterbox with a satisfyingly solid thump. R J Barker’s latest is released this week and I’m pleased to confirm it is everything I have come to expect from the author, and more.  It’s clear that Cahan du Nahare is a man haunted by the ghosts of his past. Every action he takes is an attempt to run further away from who he once was. Cahan wants to live peacefully, under the radar of the authorities, but…

Call of the Bone Ships by R J Barker
Fantasy , Orbit , R J Barker / November 26, 2020

Please note, Call of the Bones Ships is a direct sequel to The Bone Ships and if you have not read the first book in the Tide Child trilogy then it is likely what follows may contain some minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya! Dragons have returned to the Hundred Isles. But their return heralds only war and destruction. When a horde of dying slaves are discovered in the bowels of a ship, Shipwife Meas and the crew of the Tide Child find themselves drawn into a vicious plot that will leave them questioning their loyalties and fighting for their lives. Ahoy me hearties, tis time for us to set sail once again on the good ship Tide Child. R J Barker is back with Call of The Bone Ships so prepare yourself for more fantastical adventures on the high seas. Ok, I’ll admit it. I have been looking forward to this book for ages. C’mon, we’re talking sea dragons, skeletal pirate ships and more swash than you can shake a buckle at for goodness sake. How could you not be excited about that? Joron Twiner has come a long way since the end of book one. Before…

The Bone Ships by R J Barker
Fantasy , Orbit , R J Barker / September 26, 2019

Two nations at war. A prize beyond compare. For generations, the Hundred Isles have built their ships from the bones of ancient dragons to fight an endless war. The dragons disappeared, but the battles for supremacy persisted. Now the first dragon in centuries has been spotted in far-off waters, and both sides see a chance to shift the balance of power in their favour. Because whoever catches it will win not only glory, but the war. I’m a sucker for stories about pirates, I can’t help it. I still remember the first time I saw The Crimson Pirate with Burt Lancaster when I was a small child, I was immediately in awe. Novels about pirates are just as much fun. The only thing better than a novel about pirates is a fantasy novel about pirates. R J Barker’s latest, The Bone Ships, is the tale of a desperate crew setting course on a desperate mission. Joron Twiner is down on his luck. Duelling with the wrong person’s son has resulted in exile to a black ship. Only the lowliest of criminals, the lowest of the low, are condemned to such a pitiful existence. Joron is the shipwife (captain) of The…

King of Assassins by R J Barker
Fantasy , Orbit , R J Barker / August 9, 2018

Please note, King of Assassins is the final part of a trilogy and should be treated as such. If you have not read this novel’s predecessors then this review will contain minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING . . . Many years of peace have passed in Maniyadoc, years of relative calm for the assassin Girton Club-Foot. Even the Forgetting Plague, which ravaged the rest of the kingdoms, seemed to pass them by. But now Rufra ap Vthyr eyes the vacant High-King’s throne and will take his court to the capital, a rat’s nest of intrigue and murder, where every enemy he has ever made will gather and the endgame of twenty years of politics and murder will be played out in his bid to become the King of all Kings. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and the god of death, Xus the Unseen, stands closer than ever – casting his shadow over everything most dear to Girton. The last book of The Wounded Kingdom trilogy has arrived, and the good news is that our assassin’s story ends with a bang not a whimper. Strap yourselves in, things are…

Blood of Assassins by R J Barker
Fantasy , Orbit , R J Barker / February 15, 2018

Blood of Assassins is a direct sequel to Age of Assassins. If you haven’t read book one in this series, then it is entirely likely that this review will contain something akin to minor spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you all… THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING . . . The assassin Girton Club-foot and his master have returned to Maniyadoc in hope of finding sanctuary, but death, as always, dogs Girton’s heels. The place he knew no longer exists. War rages across Maniyadoc, with three kings claiming the same crown – and one of them is Girton’s old friend Rufra. Girton finds himself hurrying to uncover a plot to murder Rufra on what should be the day of the king’s greatest victory. But while Girton deals with threats inside and outside Rufra’s war encampment, he can’t help wondering if his greatest enemy hides beneath his own skin. One of my favourite reads last year was the debut novel from R J Barker. Age of Assassins is a confident fantasy adventure, well told, following an apprentice as he learns the arts of dealing death. Blood of Assassins re-joins the story five years after the events of book…

Age of Assassins by R J Barker
Fantasy , Orbit , R J Barker / August 3, 2017

Girton Club-foot, apprentice to the land’s best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their latest mission tasks him and his master with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone, or many someones, is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton and his master to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder. In a kingdom on the brink of civil war and a castle thick with lies Girton finds friends he never expected, responsibilities he never wanted, and a conspiracy that could destroy an entire land. When it comes to genre fiction I’ve always thought that fantasy lends itself particularly well to tales of political intrigue and Machiavellian power plays. Age of Assassins by R J Barker focuses on the people who are used to ensure these schemes come to fruition. Kings and queens, politicians and priests may dream of power, but it is the assassins who make these things happen. They are the ones who are responsible for shaping nations and toppling dynasties. At first glance, Girton Club-foot is exactly what you would expect from a teenager, all conflicting emotions and uncertainty….